This post teaches basic English vocabulary for describing our closest family members. Lots of examples and images!
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Today’s post is about all the different nicknames that Americans have for their country.
Learning English online isn't easy, and your best options are generally actual online classes with real teachers, but Instagram does have some great ESL sites to help you improve your English! Here's a list of our favorite accounts.
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In this post we introduce over 40 vocabulary words for describing people in English, along with 6 sentence frames to use them in. The first three sentence frames are basic (level A1). The other three are a little more advanced (level A2-B1). All of the vocabulary is basic (levels A1 to A2). (If you don't know what A1 and A2 and B1 and B2 mean, learn about the CEFR!)
Note: Reading this article in English will be difficult for A1 and A2 students. We will soon translate this article into many different languages!
What is a Sentence Frame?
Sentence frames are a really useful way to learn how we speak English. A sentence frame is a sentence with an empty slot that many different words can go in for many different situations. For example, if you learn the sentence frame I feel [ADJECTIVE], you can make hundreds of different sentences. All you need to do is learn a new adjective that fits in that slot: I feel hungry. I feel tired. I feel angry. I feel sick. At a basic level, sentence frames are a great way to learn English!
Frame #1 - Basic Sentences for Describing People
The first three sentence frames we will look at are simple sentences. One of the most common ways to describe people is with adjectives: tall, short, fat, skinny, pretty, handsome, ugly. To use these common adjectives in a sentence, try this frame:
The man is [ADJECTIVE].
The man is tall. The man is fat. The man is ugly. The man is in shape. These are all good sentences in English.
It is important to know that The man is another slot that you can change. The woman is tall. My friend is tall. My dad is tall. Jane is tall. She is tall. You can put any person in that slot.
Now let’s take a look at some adjectives describing people that can fit into this slot:
|tall||/tɔl/||greater in height than the average person; not short|
|short||/ʃɔrt/||lesser in height than the average person; not tall|
|thin||/θɪn/||not having lots of extra flesh; not fat|
|fat||/fæt/||having lots of extra flesh; not thin|
|old||/oʊld/||having lived many years; not young|
|young||/jʌŋ/||not having lived many years; not old|
|in shape||/ɪn ʃeɪp/||healthy and physically strong|
|out of shape||/aʊt ʌv ʃeɪp/||not healthy or physically strong|
|beautiful||/ˈbjutəfəl/||attractive; good looking (mainly for females)|
|ugly||/ˈʌgli/||not attractive; not good looking|
|handsome||/ˈhænsəm/||attractive; good-looking (usually for males)|
|bald||/bɔld/||not having hair on the top of the head|
Frame #2 - Basic Sentences Describing Features
The next basic sentence frame for describing people in English focuses on a specific feature: glasses, curly hair, black hair, blue eyes, a mustache, a ponytail. To talk about a person’s features, use this sentence:
The woman has [FEATURE].
With this sentence frame, you can make lots of different sentences:The woman has curly hair. The woman has glasses. The woman has long hair. The woman has a ponytail.
Again, you can change the person slot as well: The man has long hair. My friend has long hair. My sister has long hair. Clara has long hair.
Here are some features (nouns or nouns with adjectives) that can fit into this sentence frame:
Frame #3 - Basic Sentences Describing Clothes
The last sentence we will talk about for describing people focuses on clothes. Who doesn’t love clothes!? Black shoes! Gray pants! Blue ties! Green skirts! But let’s make complete sentences with them. Here is the sentence frame:
The woman is wearing [CLOTHES].
And here is a list of clothes that can go into this sentence:
All of these clothing items can be used with color words to be even more descriptive. The woman is wearing black shoes. The man is wearing a yellow tie.
So, those three sentence frames, combined with this vocabulary, allow you to make hundreds of different sentences to describe people. If you are a beginner, and this is mostly new information for you, you can stop here.
But, if you know most of this stuff, and you want to learn some more advanced English sentences, read on!
Complex Sentence Frames Describing People
The first three frames talked about nouns, features, and clothes, in that order, right? The next three frames will be used to talk about the same three things, but in a more complex way. All of the same vocabulary from the sections above can be used with the next three frames, in the same order.
In the first three sentence frames, the main idea of each sentence was describing people. The sentences were about describing people. The thing that I want to tell you about the man is that he is tall. But sometimes we want to describe people in a sentence about something else, and the description is not the most important idea in the sentence. For example, maybe I want to tell you that the man is my neighbor, but I also want to mention that he is tall. These next sentence frames will help in situations like that.
Frame #4 - Adjectives Before Nouns
Let’s use that example. The I want to tell you that the man is my neighbor, and I also want to describe him as tall. I can put the adjective before the noun: The tall man is my neighbor. You can also put any of the other adjectives from above into that slot.
The [ADJECTIVE] man is my neighbor.
The handsome man is my neighbor. The old man is my neighbor. The fat man is my neighbor. And again, the end of the sentence (which we call the predicate) is a slot, too, and you can put different verbs in there: The tall man likes football. The tall man is eating. The tall man has a car.
Frame #5 - Features and With
If you want to talk about someone’s features in that same sentence, we need to use the preposition with. We could say The man with glasses is my neighbor. Any of the other features can go into that same slot:
The man with [FEATURE] is my neighbor.
The man with red hair is my neighbor. The man with a mustache is my neighbor.
Frame #6 - Clothing and in
When we want to talk about clothes, we need another preposition. Instead of with, we use in. The man in the blue shirt is my neighbor. Any of the clothing vocabulary above can go into that same slot:
The man in [CLOTHES] is my neighbor.
The man in the tie is my neighbor. The man in the grey pants is my neighbor. The woman in the red hat is my neighbor.
That's it! Study these six sentence frames and the vocabulary, and you can now make hundreds of new sentences to describe people! Check back soon and we'll have a quiz to check what you have learned!
More free English Vocabulary Resources
Are you wondering where to start studying English vocabulary? Adjectives are a really important part of speech. An adjective is a word used to describe a noun.
It is a good idea to focus on the most common ones in the language. Below are lists of the 50 most common words in both American and British English.
Most of the most common adjectives are the same in the US and the UK (78% of the top 50 and 92% of the top 25 words appear in both lists). Notice that American is the 4th most common adjective in American English and British is the 13th most common adjective in British English. We shouldn't read too much into these simple lists, but it is interesting to note that military, federal, and personal all appear in the American list. Do you notice any other patterns?
That's all for now! Start studying!
If you're looking for something similar, check out the most common verbs in English.
more free english tips
English Vocabulary - Parts of a Laptop
Today lets learn English words to talk about parts of a laptop. As you may know, a laptop is a computer you can close like a book and take with you. Larger computers that you cannot take with you are called desktops, because they sit on top of a desk. A laptop sits on top of your lap (your lap is the upper part of your legs, which is horizontal when you sit!
The part of the laptop that you look at is called the display. Display is also a verb: your computer displays pictures, videos, and websites. Some people call this a screen, too. Screen is a more general word—your TV has a screen, there is a screen at the movies—but display is better for computers. On most laptops, there is an area around the display that doesn't show pictures, like a frame. We call this the bezel. In the middle of the bezel, above the display, you probably have a webcam: a camera that you can use on the web.
The part of the laptop with the letters is called the keyboard. A board is a flat surface, and this board is covered with buttons called keys; that's why we say keyboard! In front of the keyboard is a touchpad, which you can touch to move your cursor (the arrow on your computer screen).
On the sides of the laptop (not shown in this picture) you may have many different ports to plug in your power cord, headphones, or a USB cord.
More free English resources
English Vocabulary - Parts of a Bike
As you probably know, bike is a common short word for bicycle in English. Let's build our bicycle vocabulary by learning English names for parts of a bike!
The place where you sit is the seat, just like at the movies or in a car. You put your hands on the handlebars. Notice that this word is a combination of two other useful words: handle (something you hold in your hand) and bar (a long straight piece of metal). You put your feet on the two pedals.
The word bicycle actually means two (bi-) wheels (cycle). The rubber part of the wheel that touches the ground is called the tire. The thin metal pieces that connect to the middle of the wheel are called spokes.
The pedals connect to the rear wheel with a chain and many different circular gears. All of this is held together on a metal frame, the red part in this picture.
More free English vocabulary resources
English Vocabulary - Parts of a Shoe
Next up in our Ginseng English series Parts of a... is shoes! Do you know the names for the parts of your shoes? Read on and you soon will!
Three parts of a shoe actually have the same names as parts of your body. The toe is the part of the shoe where your toes are. The heel is the part of the shoe where your heel (the back of your foot) goes. The third one is a little less expected. The part on top that comes from the inside is called the tongue! Your foot doesn't have a tongue of course, but this part of the shoe looks a little like a tongue! 👅
On top of the tongue, the strings that you tie together are called the laces. Finally, the part on the bottom that touches the ground is called the sole of the shoe.
Other free English vocabulary resources
Across the world, everyone has some kind of home, though they all look very different! This post will describe the parts of a typical American house.
Basic English Vocabulary - Parts of a Car
Welcome to the first post in a new series on basic vocabulary from the Ginseng English Blog: Parts of a... Today, let's look at some useful vocabulary for the outside of a car!
On a car there are four tires, two front tires and two rear tires. Front and rear are useful words when we talk about cars. A car has two bumpers to protect you in an accident: a front bumper and a rear bumper. Above the bumpers are lights. There are headlights at the front of the car, and taillights at the rear of the car. On each side of the car is a side-view mirror, to help you see behind you. Inside the car is a rear-view mirror, too.
What other car vocabulary do you know? What do you want to know? Comment below!
More free online English posts
Halloween Costume Trends
I recently came across this great infographic over at the W5 blog, called Spooktacular Halloween Costumes (notice that spooktacular is just a fun portmanteau of spooky and spectacular—more on portmanteaus in this blog post).
This seems like a great opportunity to talk about how we talk about costumes in English, which can be a little tricky. If you're talking to an American friend about an upcoming Halloween party, she might ask you:
What are you going as?
What am I going as? Going as?
It may sound like a strange question, but your friend is asking you what your costume will be, or what you will be pretending to be for halloween. Another way to say this is:
What are you dressing up as?
You could answer with:
- I'm going as a ghost.
- I'm going as a dog.
- I'm going as Wonder Woman.
- I'm going as Jon Snow from Game of Thrones.
Notice that if you are going as something generic (not a single, specific character), we use an indefinite article—a ghost, a cat, an elephant—but for specific characters, we don't need an article.
One more thing: if you're a character from a movie or TV show, it's common to add from [the movie]:
- I'm going as Jon Snow from Game of Thrones.
- She's going as the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland.
- He went as Wolverine from X-Men.
So, what are YOU going as for Halloween!?
Basic geometry vocabulary
Rob from Ginseng English recently took a trip to Shanghai and recorded a lesson on geograph—err, geometry vocabulary. Take a moment and have a look!
Geometry Vocabulary List
Vertical (adj.) - positioned up and down rather than from side to side; going straight up
Horizontal (adj.) - positioned from side to side rather than up and down; parallel to the ground
Diagonal (adj.) - not going straight across or up and down
Beam (n.) - a long and heavy piece of wood or metal that is used as a support in a building
Post (n.) - a piece of wood or metal that is set in a vertical position, especially as a support or marker
Narrow (adj.) - long and not wide
Wide (adj.) - extending a great distance from one side to the other; not narrow
Free Vocabulary Resources
If you're trying to improve your English vocabulary online, check out these other free vocabulary resources from the Ginseng English Blog: